Australia might introduce a facial scan into online gambling

Australian regulators are considering using facial scan technology to control access to online gambling or adult websites in the country. The new proposal considers allowing access to such websites only after the facial scan is cross-checked with the photos from government-issued documents in the national database. This will ensure that the individual accessing the website is of age. The proposal called Identity-matching Services Bill of 2019 is still under consideration leaving some politicians concerned about the possible consequences.

Experts are also giving different reactions to the new proposal. Some think that it is not as intrusive as the alternatives while others still believe it could violate the privacy rights of individuals. “In the context of online gambling, the use of facial recognition is particularly effective where the scan can be compared to government databases such as drivers’ license photos or passports,” – commented the Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law at UNLV Boyd School of Law, Anthony Cabot. “If the patron does not want to share his or her facial characteristics or other biometrics used to verify identification, they can simply opt not to play on the site,” – he added.

Cabot also outlined a few alternatives that might be more acceptable than the proposal under consideration. One of them involves using the credit records to ask customers a few questions and thus verify their identity. Another one entails using a Skype-like tool for face-to-face ID checks, which would also lead to the same result. Cabot also added that the scanning might be helpful to the gambling companies in other ways. “Certainly, land-based casinos have used video surveillance for decades for law enforcement and security purposes. The use of facial recognition technology in conjunction with the video surveillance is more recent, but has proven useful,” – he commented. 

An important issue here is to consider whether the user is asked for consent before collecting their data or not. According to Cabot, the ‘opt-in’ feature of such schemes could make the process more beneficial and easier to accept. “If facial recognition can eliminate their need to retain and use a player’s club card and provide better services and benefits, this should not be controversial if the use is confined to what the player has expressly consented,” – says Cabot. 

“If the player has not opted-in, then questions may arise as to the use and scope of facial recognition. Casinos already use humans to recognize and service anonymous players in the casino for the purpose of rewarding play and encouraging repeat business. But facial recognition tied with external databases could provide the casino with player identification and the ability to maintain detailed play records,” – Cabot warns.

The proposal is under consideration and we still have to see what the regulators think about it. Until then, you are completely free to gamble on the Playamo website without any hindrances and obstacles. 

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